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Help health education reach the developing world

Doctors with links to developing countries are being urged to apply to a BMA fund that provides health education materials.

Terry John, BMA international committee chair
Taken May 2017The BMA Information Fund provides books, CDs and DVDs, which help train health professionals and improve the health of the local population.

Healthcare institutions, medical schools, libraries and non-government health organisations can apply to the fund.

BMA international committee chair Terry John (pictured) said: ‘The BMA Information Fund provides vital educational materials to communities around the world. 

'The books it offers can mean the difference between life and death through updating and increasing the knowledge of healthcare workers in developing countries.

‘We would encourage interested applicants to apply as soon as possible to ensure they don’t miss out on the opportunity to access this fund.’

Apply to the BMA Information Fund


‘The donation was perfect’

Oxford GP Claire Blacklock applied to the BMA Information Fund to help plug a gap in educational materials in Sierra Leone.

She set up the library in the city of Bo after establishing another in Makeni while volunteering there during 2012/13 with her husband, Alex, also a GP.

They spotted a need for educational resources for local healthcare workers on, for example, prescribing medication for malaria.

The Bo Government Hospital/School of Community Health Science Library now has more than 300 medical, management and fiction titles, with their core medical texts coming via a donation from the fund.

‘The donation from the BMA was perfect. It enabled us to buy the core texts and then we added to that with some other texts through private donations,’ Dr Blacklock said.

‘The fund makes sure that the donated books are useful, up-to-date and in an accessible format, rather than having books that are just people’s junk. That is not useful in Sierra Leone, or the UK.’

So far, the library has 96 registered members and 74 items have been borrowed since it opened in February this year. However, often people read the books in the library itself.

Dr Blacklock is returning to Bo next month to conduct a formal evaluation and appraise the librarian.

‘We don’t yet know how it’s affecting clinical practice and we would like to assess this,’ she said. 


Hub for the community

The library where BMA-donated books are housed in Uganda has become a much-needed community hub and training resource.

David Lawrence, who is a core medical trainee 1 in Brighton, applied to the BMA Information Fund for books to be used by medical students, nurses, community health workers and counsellors at the library.

The library is run by the Centre for Youth Driven Development Initiatives, which he founded with a Ugandan colleague in 2010. The centre has a public health programme and coordinates medical electives for trainee doctors with government health centres.

There are 100 users of the library each day and it has become a hub for the community.

‘We run a community library and it’s the only one in the district which is open to the public — young and old. 

'We wanted to be able to offer them an area where they can access up-to-date material and so the BMA fund was ideal for us … 

‘There are not many community places in the area and it’s become somewhere for people to congregate and socialise and use in the evenings because we have electricity at night time,’ Dr Lawrence said.

His Ugandan colleague and the centre’s programme director Enoch Magala said: ‘The decision to donate to the [centre’s] community public library has a special meaning especially in our effort to support health professionals in making the correct description for medicine and diagnosis.’

The centre is also raising money to build a community centre for young people.

Find out more about the Centre for Youth Driven Development Initiatives

Apply to the BMA Information Fund


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